At last the long awaited sentence of the convicts of the case in connection with the lynching of Attappadi Madhu has come out. Thirteen convicts to get 7 years rigorous imprisonment and three months for the 16th accused. They are also slapped Rs 100,000 each as fine. The first accused M. Hussein is convicted under Section 304 II of IPC and the others are additionally held guilty for crime under Section 326 (it is for voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means and 367 (for kidnapping or abducting in order to subject a person to grievous hurt, slavery).
“Assault or criminal force otherwise than on grave provocation” under Section 353 IPC is the 16th found guilty for. Therefore, he is sentenced for three months imprisonment and a fine of Rs 500.
Madhu’s mom Malli expressed dissatisfaction with the verdict, especially the acquittal of two accused and that the sixteen of them are not convicted for murder. She said, she would appeal against the verdict. Her daughter Sarasu echoed her mom. However, she is happy to a certain extent. That is, none had an iota of hope that they (Malli and Sarasu) would be able to carry out the legal fight to this extent.
Special Public Prosecutor Adv. Rajesh M. Menon said, the case was weakened, thanks to several witnesses who turned hostile. Prosecution started with direct evidences of the crime. However, at the end of the trial, they were left with only circumstantial evidences. Menon added that digital evidence played significant part in the case.
Even though the charge sheet was ready in May 2018, the hearing was started after four years. That there was no judge in the trial court was the first thorn in the flesh. Then came the delay in the appointment of the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP). Then two SPPs came, but went off in the same “speed”. Those days, there were reports that they left due to lack of proper payment. To add insult to the injury 26 witnesses turned hostile. This shows the interest the “proletarian” LDF government took in the matter pertaining to an ST atrocity. That is why media are lauded for the active role taken in the case affairs. Now, the representatives of Kerala Government take credit !
The special SC/ST Court in Mannarkkad, Palakkad District, Kerala, had found 14 accused guilty on March 3. Madhu was a scheduled tribe (ST) youth of Attappadi, a tribal area; his mental condition was reportedly unsound. The accused were reported to have gone to the forest on February 22, 2018, to catch hold of him, alleging that he stole some rice from a shop in Mukkali near Mannarkkad. There, he was allegedly beaten by the accused; he sustained 42 injuries; his head was injured when he fell down during the attack. And his vertebra and ribs also were broken.
Hussein, Marikkar (reported to be the gang leader), Shamsudheen, Radhakrishnan, Abubacker, Siddiq, Ubaid, Najib, Jaijumon, Sajeev, Satheesh, Hareesh, Biju and Muneer are found to be guilty of unintentional murder under IPC 304. The second accused, Aneesh and 11th accused Abdul Kareem are acquitted. Aneesh was alleged to have videographed the incident and uploaded it in the social media. The case had to face a lot of challenges. Twenty-six witnesses turned hostile. Mallika and Sarasu, Madhu’s mother and sister, respectively, are provided with security since they are alleged to be under threat from the people of the accused. Court findings are based on 3000-page charge sheet.
Mallika and Sarasu told media, just after the court found the accused guilty, that they were unhappy about the verdict; their reaction was in the light of the acquittal of the two accused and light charges against Munir. He is charged of using force. They said they would go to Supreme Court, if it is necessary, to ensure justice for Madhu. They said they were still under threat from the people of the accused.
It is alleged that Madhu’s mom and sister were offered Rs 50 lakhs for abandoning the case. It is also alleged that the accused gets foreign financial aid.
Public Prosecutor Rajesh M. Menon said that the prosecution would examine why the murder charge was not proved. SC/ST Act 31-D is taken into consideration during the whole proceedings.
Activist Dhanya Raman told the media that the people of the accused misbehave towards the people who visit Mallika and Sarasu. She said, the wife of an accused challenged Sarasu in harsh language during a TV debate. She said that about 22 murders had taken place in Attappadi during the last two decades. Even Madhu’s father was killed years before. But, this is the first case of conviction. Witnesses were threatened. Witness Protection Rule had been implemented; hence some witnesses, who had turned hostile before, returned in favour later.
No doubt, this is a landmark case, as Madhu’s mom and sister have fought against the odds for the last five years. They had to face both money power and muscle power.
BJP State President K Surendran said that State Government failed to establish the fact before the court that it was a murder.
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